U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service logo A Unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System
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National Wildlife Refuge

8 miles south of Merced, Calif., on State Hwy 59,
then 8 miles west on Sandy Mush Road.
Merced County, CA   
E-mail: tara_wertz@fws.gov@fws.gov
Phone Number: 209-826-3508
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
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Merced National Wildlife Refuge

The Merced National Wildlife Refuge encompasses 10,258 acres of wetlands, native grasslands, vernal pools, and riparian areas. It was established in 1951 under the Lea Act to attract wintering waterfowl away from adjacent farmland where foraging ducks and geese were causing extensive damage to crops.

The refuge hosts the largest wintering populations of lesser sandhill cranes and Ross' geese along the Pacific Flyway. Each fall approximately 20,000 cranes and 60,000 arctic nesting geese terminate their annual migrations from Alaska and Canada to make the refuge home. Here they mingle with thousands of other visiting waterfowl and shorebirds to make the refuge a true winter phenomenon.

The refuge provide important breeding habitat for Swainson's hawks, tri-colored blackbirds, marsh wrens, mallards, gadwall, cinnamon teal and burrowing owls. Coyotes, ground squirrels, cottontail rabbits, beaver and long-tailed weasels can also be seen year round.

Getting There . . .
Merced Refuge can be reached by driving 8 miles south of Merced on State Highway 59 and then 8 miles west on Sandy Mush Road.

Get Google map and directions to this refuge/WMD from a specified address:

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These driving directions are provided as a general guide only. No representation is made or warranty given as to their content, road conditions or route usability or expeditiousness. User assumes all risk of use.

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Management Activities
Refuge wetlands are intensively managed for a diversity of plants beneficial to waterbirds. Thousands of acre-feet of water are distributed across the wetlands by an intracate system of pipelines, ditches and pumps. Natural waterfowl food plants such as wild millet and swamp timothy are produced in the seasonally-flooded wetlands. Refuge crop fields produce a bounty of corn, winter wheat, and open pasture, for use by sandhill cranes and geese. These migratory birds rely upon this valuable food supply to ensure that their return flight to the northern breeding grounds is made on a "full stomach."